Chihuahuas are one of the most popular dogs in the country. Lots of people go nuts over these little dogs! They are one of, if not the smallest breeds, often weighing just 4-6 pounds, though some grow a little larger. Smart, loyal, and confident, Chihuahuas have a big dog personality in a small body. With their small size it’s easy to forget they are a dog sometimes but when it comes to feeding them, it’s important to keep this in mind. They do require a nutritious diet, just like other dogs. We’ll look at the best food for your Chihuahua below.
There are a couple of health issues you should be aware of with Chihuahuas because they can affect your dog’s diet. The first is hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. This issue is especially likely to appear in small breed puppies. Symptoms to watch for include loss of appetite, lethargy, low energy, trembling, unfocused gaze, uncoordinated gait, fainting, and seizures. Most puppies will grow out of this problem as they get older and their bodies begin to better regulate their blood sugar levels but some adult Chihuahuas can continue to have problems with hypoglycemia, especially if they are very small. Feeding your puppy 4-5 small meals per day can help offset the low blood sugar problems. Sometimes a snack or a little Karo syrup between meals will also help.
Chihuahuas can also have dental problems like many Toy breeds. They may experience some crowding of their teeth. This makes it harder to clean their teeth which leads to more plaque and tartar and eventually to more dental disease. Chihuahuas can start to lose teeth at an early age. Regular home care for your Chihuahua’s teeth is particularly important, along with having your vet check your dog’s teeth.
Feeding your Chihuahua
While it may be tempting to feed your Chihuahua food from your plate or give him anything he wants to eat, it’s important to remember that he has the same dietary needs as other dogs despite his small size.
Small breeds like Chihuahuas actually use up more energy per pound of body weight than larger dogs. However, they have very small stomachs so they can’t eat a lot at one meal. That’s why it’s a good idea to buy a dog food that is made specifically for Toy/small breed dogs. These foods are usually formulated to have more calories and nutrients per ounce than dog foods made for bigger dogs. (You should always read dog food labels to see what’s in the food; see how many calories the food has, and make comparisons with other foods.)
You can look for good dog foods that have a named meat or meat meal as the first ingredient. Most good dog foods will have 2-3 kinds of meat protein in the first several ingredients. It’s up to you whether you prefer a food with or without grains. Many people today try to avoid foods with corn, wheat, and soy. Some dogs do have food allergies or sensitivities to corn and/or wheat, and these ingredients have been over-used in the past in dog foods as filler ingredients. However, there are some dog foods with other grains such as oatmeal and barley that are of very good quality. If you prefer a grain free dog food, many of these foods use lots of peas and lentils. Some dogs do have trouble digesting these ingredients. You may need to try a few different foods before you find one or two that suit your Chihuahua.
You should also look for named fat sources such as chicken fat. Avoid artificial preservatives such as BHA and BHT. Avoid artificial colors, sugars, and flavorings.
Kibble or canned?
Canned foods are typically more expensive per ounce than kibble so they are not always an option for people with large dogs. However, they can be a practical choice for people with Chihuahuas and other small dogs. Canned foods usually have more protein and fat, on a percentage basis, than kibble. This makes them very tasty to dogs. They are less likely to have a lot of carbohydrates or filler ingredients.
If you’re buying canned dog food you do need to pay attention to the preservatives. Some foods use hardly any. Guar gum and other gums are common and relatively safe. Carrageenan is also found in many canned foods. It’s been used for a long time and it’s found in many human foods in the United States as well. However, there is some European research that raises questions about its use, especially in baby formulas. The suggestion is that it’s associated with stomach disorders.
View our app here or download it from the App Store or Google Play to help you identify other potentially harmful ingredients. This caution will be displayed on your phone when you scan a pet food product that includes one of these questionable ingredients.
Best foods for Chihuahuas
Some of the foods we like for Chihuahuas include:
• Orijen (See our video review here)
• Wellness CORE Dry Formula Small Breed
• Artemis Fresh Mix Small Breed Adult
• Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Adult Deboned Turkey & Oatmeal Recipe
• Wellness Simple Small Breed Salmon & Potato Formula
• Fromm Family Small Breed Adult Gold
• Earthborn Holistic Small Breed
• AvoDerm Small Breed
Some of these kibbles include grains and some are grain free. Check the ingredients and percentages to see which foods look best for your dog.
Some Chihuahuas will eat kibble and some need to have their kibble spruced up a bit with some canned food to make it more appealing.
Many of the brands mentioned above also have good canned formulas. Wellness, Nature’s Recipe, Merrick, and Canidae all have canned foods that have been recommended by people with Chihuahuas.